While I would like to add a few thoughts and clarifications to this conversation, I want to be very clear that my office did not have anything to do with H.47 and, in fact, it came as just as much of a surprise to our office as to many of yours.
H.47 proposes that VT join the several other states that use a “vote by mail” system (it would replace early/absentee voting and Election Day). There are 3 states who currently are using it: Washington, Oregon and just this past year Colorado.
As this would be a drastic cultural and administrative shift in how Vermont administers its elections, this is not something my office would recommend entering into lightly. In fact, in last year’s election bill there was a report asked of my office, with a section required that looks at the feasibility of vote by mail.
Here is the language from the executive summary that we are including in our overall report:
Statistics Regarding Increased Voter Participation in Jurisdictions which use Voting by Mail and the Feasibility and Cost of Implementing Voting by Mail in this State: The vote-by-mail system is only currently used in three states – Washington, Oregon, and Colorado (where it has only been used in the 2014 General Election) – so statistics on increased participation are limited to these states. In general, adoption of the system has resulted in increased participation. Implementation of vote-by-mail in Vermont would increase election costs due primarily to more ballots being printed and the mailing costs to mail a ballot to every registered voter. Implementation would mean a fundamental change to the way we administer elections, requiring significant training for all town clerks and other election officials, as well as a significant voter education outreach effort.
Many of you have touched on the difficulties of moving to such a program (significant cost increase being a major factor). I will reiterate that this is not a priority coming from my office and we have not been involved with H.47.
I do not think that Vermont is ready for such a drastic shift in its elections. However, I plan to be at the table for any discussions of this matter and would hope that, if this is the right direction for Vermont at some future date, the right ground work and planning is done well in advance.
Please feel free to contact me or Will with your thoughts.
Secretary of State
State of Vermont
128 State Street
Montpelier, VT 05633-1101
From: Vermont Municipal Government Discussion Network [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Bennington Town Clerk's Office
Sent: Friday, January 30, 2015 2:44 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: H. 47
FYI, if you haven't reviewed your Weekly Legislative Report yet, H. 47 would require us to mail an absent voter ballot to everyone on our checklist!
find us on the web at www.benningtonvt.org/townclerk
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